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assumed37

Starting A Placer Mining Operation

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Hello everyone,

 

 

 

I think that there should be a "newbie" section on this forum so everyone that wants to get into gold can go there instead of asking the same questions over and over again. I have found some of the answers that I needed in the other parts of this forum, but not all of them


To get started, it has been a dream of mine to start a placer mining operation and one day move to a lode mining operation. I just have a few problems and one of them being I am a newbie. I do have experience operating machinery and equipment because I grew up in a ship yard in the Gulf Coast. (The same ship yard that built the Cornelia Marie) However, that doesn't mean that I will be successful at mining for gold.


 

I figured that I could get started by having a small placer operation to get a feel for what I am doing and if I make well enough money at that, then I would expand the operation to a larger scale placer mine. The first question that everyone asks is can people make money at starting a placer mine. I see this question all over the internet and I instantly seeing the old timers coming out and telling the newbies that it can't be done or it isn't as easy as you think. That may be true, but the other truth is that someone out there is making a living pulling gold out of the earth on a small and big scale.


The next question is where to get started. I would like to get a claim in Alaska to start out because there is more virgin ground there; however, the seasons are short compared to the lower 48. So I think it would be wise to start in the south. Second, California has strict laws and they don't allow dredging, at least for now. Maybe Arizona? So where would the best place be to get a claim that has long seasons or seasons that go year round? My choice would be somewhere in Plumas county, but like I said, the laws are restrictive. So if I did go to Cali, I would be restricted to trammels and highbankers.


Next, what is the best type of operation to start with? Dredging, highbanking, or trammel? At first, I would start off doing the work by hand for the latter two, but then get equipment to move more dirt. But I have read that there is nothing better than dredging for getting the gold out of the river and not disturbing as much dirt like you would if you used equipment to dig the river out.


I do have money to put into this operation, but I will obviously be trying to save it wherever I can. I would like for this to not be a hobby but a way of living, a lifestyle. I am not hurting for money or a job, but I went to a gold camp in Alabama a few years back and have had the fever ever since. Opinions anyone? I really am serious about this.


 

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Start very small and build up slowly, learning as you go. Don't spend huge amounts of money before you gain the experience to find gold. You wont have a TV program paying all your bills, and if you lose your money, its gone. Too many are in a big rush to strike it rich, and start out by spending loads and figuring they will learn what they need to know later. Later is often too late - or never happens at all. Learn the trade of finding gold first - because no type of equipment actually finds gold - you have to find it and your equipments helps you recover it. If the gravel you put in a trommel has no gold, no gold will come out. You have to find the gold and run it through your equipment. Prospecting is a skill and a trade to be learned. Practice and study and you will learn in time. 

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Thank you very much,

That was the most motivating reply that I have ever received on a gold forum.

 

I am very frugal by nature, so it will not be hard to accept your advice. I only need a good piece of land to get started with. I know that My family will not approve because they do not accept it as a legitimate business. However, I do not care what they think, I have to try. This has been my dream ever since I started watching the gold fever show back when I was a kid. I have litreally seen every episode haha.
(yes, I was a kid when it started coming on TV) Instead of following my dream straight out of highschool, I enlisted in the military and have been on two deployments. Now, my enlistment is running out and I think this is the best time to finally follow my dream. I have had people tell me that I need to stay in for the retirement because I am almost half way. The truth is, if you don't enjoy what you are doing, what is the point in wasting your life? You only get one shot at it, (as far as we know). I am willing to learn from anyone here that is willing to give advice! I am also willing to work for anyone here that is willing to let me work for you! I am no stranger to very long work hours, trust me, I am deployed right now! If I have to get my own claim myself and do all of the work, that is fine too, I have a considerable amount of money saved for that as well. I just need someone to point me in the right direction.

 

Is plumas county a good place to start? if not, why? Are there too many reugulations?

 

Where should I start?

 

What should I start with?

 

I am willing to give percentages to anyone that helps!! seriously!!

padraig likes this

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I would learn all the mining districts of interest to yourself.  For anyone looking at ground knowledge of using the BLM's LR2000 is a must.  To use the LR2000 you must understand how the PLSS (public land survey system) works.  There are not many maps available using the PLSS (at least in my area).  Google Earth is an absolute MUST now days; in my opinion.  If you use Google Earth you can add 3rd party software to it, so you can view the PLSS data you need. 

 

So once you know the Section (sometimes 1/4sec.), Township, and Range of your area of interest; you can then input the data into the BLM's LR2000.  Using the LR2000 you can view any piece of public land in America to see any and ALL mining claim history.  You will also be able to find out the most important question at hand, if the land is already claimed or not.  If the land is open, you can then prospect it to see if you want to place a claim on the land.  Make sure you follow local state and county laws for prospecting.

 

Getting used to the process between Google Earth and the LR2000 can be very confusing if you don't have someone to help you.  With practice I have found these tools used together to be THE MOST EFFICIENT way to research ground you may potentially be interested in.  If you need any help with it I would be happy to teach you those first two basics.

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good advice but as far as Lr2000, it does not give you everything.  I can locate a claim and file it with the county recorder and not have to file it with BLM(Lr2000) for 90 days from the date of location.

So, check with the county recorder for any filings within the last 90 days to see if the area you are interested in has been claimed recently.

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Exactly right Harry.  

There can be valid claims staked that the BLM isn't aware of yet.  

I would add that you must research the ground itself, thoroughly, as well as the County and BLM records.  Yes, you will need to learn how to run reports on the LR2000 website and become familiar with the MTRS (meridian, township, range and section) system.

On the ground, you are looking for a location monument as well as the corner posts.  First one to put those on the ground have established their rights of location.  Once ground staked, next is a trip to the County for recordation.  Once those recorded original location notices are returned to you, then you file with the BLM... pay your ever-increasing fees and obtain your mining claim serial number.  Then, you better stay on top of your filings at the proper time…. or you lose it all.

Be very cautious about buying claims.  That's a whole other topic.

 

Assumed37, I like your spirit and hope you follow your dream.  Trying to small-scale gold mine for a living is possible, but very few are successful at it.  Do some searches on that topic and best of luck.

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Youve got a lot of work ahead of you.  My advice is to look for work in the industry.  If you're looking at placer mining, find an operation and put some seasons in learning.  Think of it as paid on the job training.  Ill tell you this, Ive been working at getting to a level where I can be full time make a living mining since I staked my first claim in 09.  Even coming from a family mining background, and working with very skilled and beneficial partners, this has been much tougher than I had ever imagined.  In the last few years I have met both ends of the spectrum, those who make mining mining and those who don't.   I don't know the secret to making it but I know hard work never hurts.  In my experience you cant part time mining, That has been the biggest slow down for me.  Its either a hobby or its a business, pick one and go for it.  

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   I don't know the secret to making it but I know hard work never hurts.    

 

  I do. Having decent ground is the answer. All the hard work in the world isn't going to bring you

a good clean-up if the gold ain't there !

Underburden and JR BOI like this

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So, if we put those two excellent suggestions together….

Try to find a job working for an outfit that is working some profitable ground!

 

Down the road, you can take your skills and experience and try to find your own ground.

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Wow,

 

Thank you everyone for the very good replies, I'll take all of the information that you gave me during my continued research. I do not want to jump straight into this business but do all of my research. It will honestly be next year or even 2007 before I get everything together. I am going to build most of the equipment because I have a welding machine and heavy equipment to build most of the equipment. Most likely build most of what I can out of Aluminum since it is so much lighter. I think, at least in my mind, the place I need to start is with the equipment, and then look for the good land. So full Operation, looks like it would be around the 2018 season, maybe 2017 if I can manage to get all of the equipment built and tested before then, while trying to work a full time job back home.

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Work your full time job and save up as much as you can. Save up enough to live on for six months, then give it a go for six months and see how it pans out. Making small scale mining pay - especially for a new and inexperienced prospector - is an extremely difficult task. The vast majority (like 98%) do not succeed. Even if it does not work for you, it will be quite the adventure. What you know about finding gold makes a big difference. Its less about hard work and more about your skills at finding gold.

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Factors that control success;

 

Your success isn't based on being a 2 percenter or a 98 percenter or the number of months needed to get into profit mode. Success depends on many variables...

 

Depending on how you apply yourself to the process of learning about placer mining and/or hard rock (because you mentioned both) can take many years. Being a welder is good. Mining on a commercial scale requires certain types of heavy equipment; like a dozer or loader or excavator. The mining plan and method used depends on the mining project. The mining project depends on your selection of mining property.

 

The selection of property is foremost. The selection process involves an understanding of all of the social, political and economic factors that control what you can and cannot do on any given property. Each of those three areas require gathering of information. Most properties when subjected to critical evaluation do not qualify for investment of time and money. Yet, much time and money is required to evaluate properties.

 

- Geowizard

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Social factors;

 

Humans are social animals! :)

 

Everyone wants to get involved in the process. We may want to perform the task of mining and the neighbors may have an objection based on their other interests. Placer mining has an impact on a long list of "interests" held by others. To avoid conflict with the interests of others mining has to be done on certain terms and conditions that are acceptable to the public at large. Rules and regulations are in place at all levels of government and policies are varied according to the "domain" on which a given mining project is proposed.

 

So, it comes down to "social responsibility" and concern for the sensitivities and special interests of others. Certain groups control the regulatory process to the extent that they lobby political and regulatory bodies to promote and protect their "special" interests at the cost of mining interests.

 

There's nothing new about this. The process has evolved most markedly since Teddy Roosevelt. The establishment of National Parks and reservation of the public lands for "special" purposes that exclude mining continues to evolve. In other words a proposed mining project might meet certain standards and obtain approval today and then with evolution of the social pressures and special interests of those in opposition, it may not reach fruition. The Pebble Project in Alaska comes to mind.

 

- Geowizard

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have a question. i am new at this and was wanting some information. i heard blm that  you buy claims from them. i look on there web site didt find nothing. i look on line but people want and arm and leg for them. i was raise to work hard and if it was easy everbody woud want do them.

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Finally, a topic that I know something about...newbie starting a placer mining operation. How new? 2015 was my first season.

 

Step 1. Research.. ad infinitum. Read everything you can find. I started creating a library immediately. Everything from US Geological publications and reports to out-of-print-books that you can now own because of character recognition software, e.g. Whitney 1880, Turner 1896, Lindgren 1911. "miningbooks.com" is a good place to start. The world wide web is an amazing resource - it's incredible what a person can learn when motivated. Note: I initially conducted research for a year before moving to step 2. It is helpful to know that research must be part of your continuing mining activity. Your mind is the tool that will help you find gold...not a pick and a shovel...or a detector or backhoe. Sharpen the mind.

 

Research also means learning and staying current on all pertinent mining laws. I cannot overstate the critical importance of this. If you make a mistake in your on-site mining processes, you could easily add to the already overwhelming legal costs that PLP, AMRA, WMA and other groups are spending right now defending the cases that are already on the dockets. 

 

Learning from more experienced miners is challenging, if not impossible. Miners hold their cards close to their chests for obvious reasons. They figure that if you are serious about mining, then you need to put in the sweat equity. You can show a mining veteran the nugget you found, but don't tell them where you found it, or they won't respect you...or trust you. Gold does strange things to people, especially people who have "the bug". On that note, if a veteran miner tells you something about the area, listen carefully. Near my new claims, an old miner told me where there is a spring where I can get fresh, potable water. What a great share that was for me! I shook his hand and said THANK YOU SIR! Later, he gave me some even better intel about the area. See how that works?

 

Step 2. Based upon your research, attempt to determine where you think a good place to try looking for gold. In my case, since I live in Reno, Plumas and Sierra Counties were a logical decision. Sorry...I won't be more specific than that. :)

 

Step 3. Learn how to query LR2000. There is a steep learning curve, but once you get a handle on it, you can learn a lot from this tool. Once you figure out aliquot part naming, then you can start pinpointing specific places you might be able to locate minerals.

 

Step 4. Once you find a section that interests you, call BLM and ask them to make copies of all the current claims in that section, and you will pay a few bucks for them to make copies and send them to you. The reason for this is because the data you find on LR2000 is likely not current, and maybe up to 3 months behind.

 

Step 5. Sample extensively. Get down to bedrock if you can. You will probably find some gold (because it's up there), but look at it closely. What are the qualities of the gold you find? Why does the gold you found here possess these particular qualities? flour or flakes or coarse? If you are happy with the answers to these questions, proceed to step 6, else... back to step 3.

 

Step 6. Stake your claim. Read all BLM publications on how to do this correctly, then do it correctly. Some of the maps and documents BLM has send me that others have filed are incredibly amateurish. I couldn't even read their squiggles.

 

Step 7. Record the claim at the county seat, which includes paying recording and other fees.

 

Step 8. File the claim with BLM. I pay the fees the first year, and then I file small miner waiver and annual assessment documents in subsequent years. For each 20 acres (approx) on a claim, one name is required on the claim. Putting spouses names on claims is discouraged, unless she is also a "real" miner. If a single claim is 40 acres, two names are required...60 acres requires 3 names...and so on. 160 acres total for each claim. 10 claims total to be considered a "small miner" to be eligible for BLM maintenance fee small miner waivers. Note: $100 in assessment work required annually for each 20 acres. If the claims are contiguous, then all assessment work can be done on a single claim. If the claims are not contiguous, then $100 in annual assessment for each claim must be performed on EACH claim.

 

Step 9. Plan your work, then work your plan. I probably invested $10,000 in equipment before my first season. Then, after I learned a lot about how to find and get gold out of the ground, I spent another $5000 on additional equipment. I am not only a weekend miner, instead I go up in the summer and spend a whole month on the claim...I mean... two, 14 day periods.  :) My mining partner and I also spend some weekends on the claim.

 

Step 10. Once you have worked you plan, what are the results? I promise you will learn so much, that you may decide to sell or abandon the first claim and find another claim somewhere else. In my case, I sold my first claim, and then I filed two more 20 acre claims in a different location.

 

 

Summary:

 

RESEARCH

Sample

Locate, stake and file (or you can buy a claim from someone).

Mine (verb) :)

Evaluate results

Mine (verb)

re-evaluate results.

 

What have I forgotten?

 

Oh...don't miss filing deadlines or somebody will take your claims from you. I have already seen that happen this last year, and there were angry and distrustful people brandishing guns. Bad combination.

 

Lastly, be polite and professional to managing agency personnel... and your claim neighbors... of course. Mining is hard enough without creating troubles for yourself. It can be a struggle sometimes for me too. In these troubling times, it is easy to default to a**hole...."You kids get offa my lawn!" heh

 

and...bring your dogs to keep them bears and cats out of camp.

 

That's what I learned this last year. Wow, what a rollercoaster ride! I am loving every minute of it! Can't wait to get up there in April/May and look at the SDHC card in my game camera!

 

Sorry for typos...

 

Brian

 

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